Texas Tech football: How 10 men contributed to decline of Red Raider football

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 19: Head coach Mike Leach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during play against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 19: Head coach Mike Leach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during play against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
3 of 11
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Kent Hance

Every story has two sides.  And if we are going to hold Mike Leach accountable for his role in the downfall of Texas Tech football, we must do the same for his nemesis and former boss, Kent Hance.

Texas Tech Chancellor from 2006-2014, the former Texas State Representative was the man who ultimately led the university’s rushed and incomplete investigation into the allegations of mistreatment levied by Adam James and his family.  It was not as if Hance acted alone in dismissing Leach, in fact, it was university president Guy Bailey who made the final call, but Hance was the tip of a spear that included a number of prominent Texas Tech officials (including athletic director Gerald Meyers) and boosters.

And it is clear that many people in power at Texas Tech had it in for their head football coach long before anyone ever thought about Adam James or electrical closets.  In fact, the movement to oust Leach may have been in motion long before 2009 and well out of the public purview.

"“Several regents and especially the chancellor didn’t like Mike Leach,” Michael Lee Lanning, author of the book Double-T Double Cross told CougFan.com, a Washington State site.  “This is a cowboy-boot, Stetson-wearing crowd and they don’t like to get bested by anyone. They had a contract with Mike Leach larger than they wanted, and were going to do anything they could to get out of it.”"

In fairness, Hance has said that that he wanted Leach to remain Tech’s head coach but felt he was left with no choice but to fire him after Leach allegedly profanely told Hance how he felt. But where Hance went wrong was in letting the situation escalate so quickly.

When allegations against a prominent figure are made, it is customary for a thorough and lengthy investigation to follow.  For instance. Ohio State took nearly a month before deciding to suspend Meyer for the first three games of 2018.  And Maryland took several months to investigate its football program and head coach D.J. Durkin last year after the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

But from the time that Texas Tech learned of James’ allegations to the time Leach was asked to apologize, only ten days elapsed. That was not even enough time for anyone involved to wrap their heads around the situation, much less sort through the facts and decide upon a proper course of action.

Why was there such a rush to condemn the most popular figure in the history of your athletic department who had taken your most valuable program to never-before-seen heights?  Why not give the man who had led your program for nine years while having one of the nation’s best graduation rates due process?

Unfortunately, it looks like money and pettiness played a much larger role than many realize to this day.  In fact, Gwynne cites emails to Hance from former Tech Board of Regents Chairman Jim Sowell in February of 2009 (almost a year prior to the Adam James incident) in which the Dallas businessman suggested firing Leach following the 2009 season, regardless of how the season played out.

It appears that the bad blood between Hance and Leach was already a lit fuse and the December 2009 allegation was the spark needed to blow up the most successful era of Texas Tech football.

But there is another contribution Hance has made to the current state of the program, and at the time, it was perhaps the most popular decision he made while at Tech.  In 2012, Hance was integral in the decision to hire Kliff Kingsbury as head coach to replace Tommy Tuberville.

In fact, the meeting between Kingsbury, Hance and AD Kirby Hocutt in which Kingsbury was offered and accepted the position took place at Hance’s Austin residence.  When Hocutt hired Matt Wells last fall to replace Kingsbury, he was adamant that he was going to be the only one making that decision and perhaps that was a result of the undue influence that was exerted on him by Hance and other influencers to Hire the under-qualified Kingsbury in 2012.

In the end, no one can question how much Kent Hance loves Texas Tech.  Unfortunately, there are other people on this list that do not.  But what we can question is whether or not his influence and leadership, especially in 2009, led to the proper outcomes for the football program.  Certainly, his actions during the James-Leach controversy led to the beginning of the downfall of Red Raider football and his backing of Kingsbury turned out to be another misstep that led the program down the wrong path.